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I have been exercising regularly (daily with a resting day per week) at the gym for a couple of months now. As I am quite busy, I exercise about one hour each session. This includes intensive (for my condition) PT about 2 or 3 times a week, and self-exercising (treadmill).

I feel exhausted at the end of each session. I will have a 10 days vacation coming soon and I plan to use that time to exercise, staying at the gym for longer and self-exercising (no coach).

How should I manage my time there to maximize the benefits of staying a long time at the gym ?

My training objective:

  1. Weight loss: I am in the higher part of the normal BMI range. My fat percentage is about 21%.
  2. Muscle gain: I have weak back and regular pain in the back. My condition improved since I started training.
  • New here. Any advice to improve the question is welcome :) – Taladris Sep 23 '17 at 2:24
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With the best will in the world, having 10 days to work on yourself isn't going to make that much of an impact. Body recomposition, which is what you're after (losing fat, gaining muscle) is a much longer endeavor.

My recommendation would be to try and do that same sort of workout that your PT puts you through; although you currently find it exhausting, over time you will adapt to it, provided you're recovering adequately, and then do your self-exercise as you normally do.

When looking at making changes to your body, consistency over time is the most important thing.

What I'd also look at is the other aspects of your life with regards to your goals; Are you eating enough? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you stretching and doing mobility work (which can help with back pain). These are the often neglected things that you can work on with your time off.

How's your eating? This is the key to fat loss. If your diet isn't great, or you're eating too much or not enough, take the time off to figure out how to eat better and do meal prep / cook some simple, nutritious food. Maybe take a quick cookery class, spend a day in the kitchen and learn a few recipes. There are a lot of resources online for healthy meals, try some and find some you like!

How's your recovery? If you don't feel like you're recovering from training sessions well enough, then have a look at your sleeping environment and see if you can improve it at all (again, searching for information about better sleep should yield a host of results). Go treat yourself to a massage, take a few yoga classes to work on your flexibility and chill out a bit.

If you feel completely burned out from your training, and you've been hitting it hard for a couple of months, then it doesn't hurt to take a week off and just do some light exercise instead. Go swimming, go for a hike, take a yoga class (though some of those can actually be pretty intense).

I know this isn't the answer you want... telling you to hit the gym for 17 hours a day, work every body part 121 times in those 10 days and generally wreck yourself would be a much sexier answer, but honestly, you're doing the right thing with regards to your training at the moment, just stick at it, it takes time to make changes.

  • +1 -- "(losing fat, gaining muscle) is a much longer endeavor." Exactly what I was thinking. I wish more people followed this, muscle is essentially the glue that keeps the weight off. – Mike-DHSc Oct 3 '17 at 5:09
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Dark Hippo has a great answer! It's awesome you are up for some intense training over your 10 day vacation period. Here's how I would approach this 10 day period that you have coming up.

  1. Instead of aspiring to spend over 2 hours a day at the gym for 10 days straight, I would spend your usual hour a day or more if you're up for it at the gym doing what your PT has you do. You don't need your PT for every one of those 10 days. Try repeating what he had you do on the days he's not there with you to build some self confidence in working out on your own.

  2. Since you're on vacation, you can also afford to spend some time understanding macronutrients, caloric intake, protein/carbs/fats etc. Youtube is an awesome resource for people who don't have the time to go through books. I would recommend youtubers like Omar Isuf and Alan Thrall. There are others that you can find as you get into fitness and start finding your fitness style. Specifically look up how to calculate/track macros. You can use a site like IIFYM. Start using myfitnesspal (a mobile application that you can use to search up food and scan barcodes to track the macronutrients (fats, carbs, proteins, calories) of. Your physique is built in the kitchen as they say. Working out is needed but if you aren't eating well and in deficit (less than you burn just existing), you won't lose weight. It's a lot, but spending the time learning about macros/calories/maintenance/deficit etc. will have a huge return.

  3. If you're at the gym, I would highly recommend you start lifting if your PT doesn't have you lifting weights yet. Use light weights, search up form vids online and do the lifts properly. Get used to these lifts. This is not to say ignore bodyweight exercises and cardio because those are important as well, but since you are paying for a gym, might as well capitalize right? You mentioned you had a weak back so things like deadlifts/rows (crucial to have good form) and lat pulldowns, cable rows will help build up your back. Start getting an idea of the different exercises and which parts of your body they hit. For example, you could do a standard bodybuilding style workout program where you hit different body parts every day with 10 to 12 repetitions per set. Or maybe you want to start lifting as a sport/strength gaining regimen and might want to check out stronglifts 5x5. There are lots of programs and it's cool to experiment but you want to pick something and stay consistent. Don't be the kid in the candy factory after a month or two of being comfortable with the gym. Pick a program and stick with it for the goals you set for yourself.

  4. It's becoming a theme here but I want to emphasize these 10 days will be valuable for information gathering. Start looking up basic mobility work/stretches because as most of the stack exchange community tends to be desk workers, they have a host of problems from sitting too much (tight hips etc.) Check out mobilityWOD by Kelly Starrett (he also has a great book called Becoming a Supple Leopard and another one on desk related exercises which I cannot recall). Supple Leopard is a treasure trove of stretches/mobility work for your back and other areas. This basic mobility/stretching work will go a long ways in living a healthy/injury free lifestyle well past your prime.

  5. The mentality. I can tell you're eager to get in there and start working at it. Capture this feeling and remember it. However, consistency is king. Don't burn yourself out thinking you can go 3 hours a day, 10 days straight and when the DOMS hits (delayed onset muscle soreness), you won't even want to walk let alone go to the gym (Force yourself to go even if its just walking on a treadmill because its a habit thing, get used to quitting and who knows how long till you go back?). Terry Crews said it best:

    TREAT THE GYM LIKE A SPA. Yes. It has to feel good. I tell people this a lot - go to the gym, and just sit there, and read a magazine, and then go home. And do this every day. Go to the gym, don't even work out. Just GO. Because the habit of going to the gym is more important than the work out. Because it doesn't matter what you do. You can have fun - but as long as you're having fun, you continue to do it. But what happens is you get a trainer, your whole body is sore, you can't feel your legs, and you're not coming back the next day - you might not come back for a year! I worked my way up to 2 hours a day. I ENJOY my workouts. They are my peace, my joy - I get my whole head together! I value that time more than my shower! And it really gets me together. But it's a habit. There are times when - I'm not even kidding - there are times when I"m in the middle of a work out, and actually woke up because i am so engrained with going to the gym and being there - it's that much of a habit to me. The first thing I do in the morning is work out - I lay out my workout clothes the night before, and just hop in 'em. So lay out your clothes, and go to the gym, and relax. HaAHAHAH! But sooner or later, you WILL work out.

Fitness is a lifestyle, a marathon not a sprint. Discipline will carry you a lot further than just a spurt of motivation. Learn to love your body and work at it like a sculptor. Congrats on embarking on this lifestyle and good luck!

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Ten days are not enough for anything, you can surely exercise for longer and sleep for longer which would give you a bit boost, but 10 days are a drop in the grand schemes of staying fit.

You have been doing this regularly and that's the biggest step towards betterment, consistency matter more than doing a few days then taking off for months.

If you are able to do 1 hour session, 3-4 days a week, you are already set and don't need to tweak much beyond that.

You currently can't decide to fix weakpoints since you have only been doing this for a few months, keep your general fitness going and then we can focus on weakpoints. I hope you have been following a good strength training program, I suggest Candito's Linear program, the rest is your choice.

If you are training deadlifts twice a week at least with some kind of accessories added in and progressing on it too, you don't have to worry much beyond that.

For weightloss/fatloss, you need to focus on diet more than training, currently training will give you a nice boost in strength and general fitness, but if your main focus is fat loss you need to find out how many calories you need, then eat 200 calories less than that. Log your weight weekly and keep measurements of body to see how well you are losing fat.

If you are gaining weight too drastically that means that can't be accounted with the muscle gains which means you are gaining fat, in which case you will need to reduce calories further.

Do this much and you'll be stronger and at a better fat% in about a year.

Lastly, don't focus on the short term, see the bigger picture and don't give up.

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